Barcelona Thursday Four Conference

"Thursday Four" press conference -- Drivers: David Coulthard (McLaren), Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Williams), Eddie Irvine (Ferrari) and Esteban Tuero (Minardi) _________________________________________________________________ ...

"Thursday Four" press conference -- Drivers: David Coulthard (McLaren), Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Williams), Eddie Irvine (Ferrari) and Esteban Tuero (Minardi) _________________________________________________________________ Q. David, as the winner of the last GP, at Imola, what are your feelings here? How closely do you assess your chances in the world championship? DC: Well, Imola already seems like a very long time ago. As far as the championship is concerned, I know that some people like to look at the big picture, but I prefer to take each race as it comes. The only way to win a championship is to win all the races. If that isn't possible, then the next best thing is to finish each race with as many points as possible. I just have to do the best I can each weekend. Then, come the end of the year, it won't make me a failure if I don't win the championship, it will only mean that some other guy has scored more points than I did. Although I am lying second on points at the moment, it is not something I analyse. At the moment it doesn't mean anything. Either I will get to the point where I win it -- or I won't. Q. McLaren has already done at least ten days' testing here this year alone. With the knowledge you now have, how much more can be learned? DC: You can always learn something, because the track is different each day you drive the car. It is possible to finish one test with the car handling very nicely, then return without having changed anything on it, and discover that different track conditions and temperatures have made it feel like a completely different car. That is one of the reasons why some drivers will often find that their lap times with low fuel on Saturday morning, when temperatures are lower, are quicker than anything they can do in qualifying. Even though the corners come up in the same direction, every time you hit the track it is different. Q. Esteban, you tested with Minardi here last week. Does it help you to feel more confident when you are on a circuit which you know better than the last four? ET: I already know the track from the testing that I did with Minardi in February. That means I start with a good knowledge of the circuit, and it makes me feel more comfortable. Of course, it helps that most of the people here speak my language, but my first home in Europe now is Italy -- with Spain second. Q. You finished a race at Imola for the first time in four starts. How did that feel? ET: It was a beautiful feeling to finish. It was a very important result for me to have been classified in the first ten, it has given me the strength and incentive to continue with the challenge that I have accepted in F1. Q. Heinz-Harald, won't it be too late for you to challenge for the world championship by the time you go to Monaco or Canada? HHF: Logically, we still have the possibility to challenge for it, but each race in which we don't improve the car takes our chances a little further away. And although there is a theoretical chance, first of all we have to overcome the problems that we still have with the car here. Maybe we will be in better shape for Monaco, and I feel quite comfortable about that race, but here in Spain we have to bite into the problems that we know about. Q. How serious is the problem? HHF: The problem is basically something at the rear end, and under race conditions it makes the car rather loose. In qualifying it doesn't affect us too badly, and I am able to control things reasonably well. Our strategy is to extract the best possible performance in qualifying, then to maintain a good balance throughout the race, especially on a tyre-eating circuit like this one. If the car goes out of balance here it is very easy to grain the front tyres or to have the rears suffering. Q. Eddie, most of Ferrari's pre-season testing was done at Mugello. Will that be a handicap here for you and Michael Schumacher? EI: I guess it will be a slight disadvantage not to have done as many miles here as several other teams. If we had a race at Mugello, of course, we would be looking very strong indeed! But we stayed at Mugello for very specific reasons connected with the car's lack of reliability early in its life. If it had broken down at Mugello, we would have got it home to Maranello within two or three hours, while having to go home from here is a two or three day drive. Michael has tested here twice and I was here last week. I already feel that I have got the car handling as well here as I am likely to get it. Q. What difference does the new exhaust system make? EI: it makes the handling feel less nervous in the corners. Going into a corner there is less oversteer, and on full throttle there is less understeer. The car feels more 'together,' and you can come off the throttle in mid-corner without the big moments that we had before. I don't think the ultimate lap times will be any quicker with the new exhaust, but the consistency of handling should be better.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Michael Schumacher , Heinz-Harald Frentzen , David Coulthard , Esteban Tuero
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams , Minardi